Strata Retail & Technology Services

The Client:

Strata Retail & Technology Services, based in Bangalore, India, started JustBooks CLC in 2009. JustBooks is a community library chain that helps libraries share inventory, which increases the number of titles available for all libraries. Customers can borrow and return books from a kiosk at any library or order books online for home delivery. JustBooks uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to track and manage inventory. In three years, the library chain has grown to include 60 libraries across 10 cities in India, giving JustBooks members access to more than 800,000 books. Strata’s staff includes 60 full-time employees, 20 consultants, and 30 warehouse and delivery workers.

The Business Challenge

AJustBooks’ parent company, Strata, expanded its operations to several locations and needed an integrated system to manage information across the organization. Strata contacted JK Technosoft, a member of the Amazon Partner Network (APN), who proposed using SAP Business All-in-One. At the time, Strata was using a private hosted solution. “We determined that we would need a minimum of four servers to run the SAP solution on that infrastructure,” says Akhilesh Kataria, Technology Director for Strata. “However, we only planned to use the SAP solution occasionally, up to 15 hours per month.” After reviewing the budget, Strata realized that by moving to the cloud, the company would be able to reduce costs because hardware would no longer be an upfront capital cost.

Why Amazon Web Services

Strata considered Amazon Web Services (AWS) to be a stable and cost-effective solution. “The competitive pricing for Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances and other services, as well as continuing price reductions, meant that AWS would be a cost-effective platform for deployment,” says Kataria. “We can deploy our SAP solution on AWS and only pay for the resources that we use. Scaling and provisioning new instances is self-service and only takes a couple of minutes.”

Working with JK Technosoft, Strata installed SAP Business All-in-One using SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on Amazon EC2. Strata uses SAP Solution Manager to deploy and manage its development, testing, and production environments. Strata and JK Technosoft installed each environment in phases, followed by user training. The SAP solution went live on AWS in less than two months.

To run the JustBooks platform, Strata uses SAP R/3 on Amazon EC2. The platform uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store the static resources (such as digital membership forms) that it uses with Amazon CloudFront for content delivery. The company estimates that it currently stores about 500 GB in Amazon S3. The company runs Oracle databases on Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and uses AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), Amazon CloudSearch, and Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES). To monitor availability, Strata uses Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) and third-party services such as New Relic and Pingdom. Figure 1 demonstrates Strata’s SAP Business All-in-One deployment on AWS.

The Business Benefits:

“Deploying our SAP solution on AWS is worthwhile because we only use computing resources when we need them,” says Kataria. “The value is in not having to invest in data centers and associated costs, such as electricity and cooling, to host applications. “We start servers as we need them, about 30 percent of the time each month. Because we only pay for what we use, we’re saving upwards of 60 percent.” By implementing SAP Business All-in-One on AWS, Strata has a stable platform that can support the growth of the organization. The company uses the SAP solution for many of its core functions, including payroll, help desk, and development, and has adopted SAP best practices to improve organization efficiency.

Traffic to JustBooks is cyclical, and generally increases by 60 percent during the evenings and weekends. By using Auto Scaling to manage traffic to the JustBooks platform, Strata has been able to reduce costs for the platform by approximately 40 percent. “Using AWS, we’re able to use our hardware resources efficiently. Our response time during peak traffic is now less than our service level agreement with our customers,” says Kataria. “As a result, our engineering teams have more time to focus on optimization.”

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